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Reprinted  from  the  Historical  Guide  to  the  City  of  New  York 
Published  by  Frederick  A.  Stokes  Co. 

Revised,  1915 


Mailed  on  receipt  of  price   by   Secretary,  City   History   Club 
105  West  40th  Street 

Copyright,  igog,  1913,  by  the  City  History  Club  of  New  York 

Cj  C 

*.  ■'  1 


15  Milestone  1  Milestone 

9  Milestone  New  Utrecht 

Photographed  by  G.  W.  Nash 



The  Board  of  Aldermen  has,  by  special  enactment,  transferred  to 
the  City  History  Club  the  care  and  maintenance  of  the  milestones 
in  Manhattan,  and  the  Club  expects  to  receive  similar  jurisdiction  in 
the  other  boroughs. 

Through  a  "Milestone  Committee,"  the  15th  Milestone,  near  Van 
Cortlandt  Mansion  (p.  184),  has  been  firmly  reset  in  its  former  location, 
thus  saving  it  from  destruction,  and  the  inh  Milestone  of  Manhattan 
has  been  removed  to  Roger  Morris  Park  and  marked  by  a  tablet  (p. 
159).  Plans  are  now  under  way  for  the  care  of  other  stones  in  Man- 
hattan and  at  Van  Pelt  Manor,  near  Utrecht.  No.  9  Manhattan  and 
the  Richmond  stone  are  already  protected  (pp.  151,  ZV)^  one  by  private 
means,  the  other  through  a  historical  society. 

On  May  31,  1915,  the  City  History  Club  will  mark  Milestone  No.  I, 
Bowery  opposite  Rivington  Street,  and  No.  XII,  in  the  front  wall  of 
Isham  Park. 

The  City  History  Club  obtains  the  means  for  this  work  by  a  volun- 
tary tax  paid  by  children  enrolled  in  its  study  clubs  and  by  general 

See  articles  in  the  Outlook  (June  24,  1909),  "Along  the  Hudson  in 
Stage  Coach  Days";  Westchester  County  (N.  Y.)  Maga::ine,  "Some 
Westchester  County  Milestones"  and  "Some  Bronx  Milestones  " 

See  also  "The  Greatest  Street  in  the  World— Broadway,"  by  Stephen 
Jenkins;  "The  New  York  and  Albany  Post  Road,"  by  C.  G.  Hine. 


(105  West  40th  Street) 


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Milestones  and  the  Old  Post  Road,  12  pp.,  5  cuts;   10  cents. 


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By  George  W.  Nash,  M.  D. 

The  associations  of  highways  and  milestones  is  so  intimate  that 
a  few  words  may  be  said  of  milestones  in  general.  These  stones, 
which  now  call  forth  a  merely  sentimental  interest,  were  considered 
by  our  forefathers  a  necessity.  In  1788  the  State  of  New  York 
passed  the  following:  "As  milestones  are  a  great  public  convenience, 
removing  or  damaging  any  milestone  is  punishable  by  a  fine  of  three 
pounds  for  such  damage,  part  to  go  to  the  informant,  part  to  be  ap- 
plied to  the  repair  of  the  damage,  and  a  third  part  to  be  paid  to  the 
overseers  of  the  town  in  which  the  offence  shall  be  committed."  If 
unable  to  pay  a  fine,  the  party  was  to  suffer  thirty  days'  imprison- 
ment. This  law  still  remains  in  effect  except  that  a  term  of  im- 
prisonment of  two  years  may  be  imposed. 

No  less  person  than  Benjamin  Franklin  selected  the  positions  for 
many  milestones  along  the  highways,  when  as  Postmaster  General, 
in  a  specially  contrived  wagon,  he  measured  off  the  miles  at  which 
the  stones  should  be  erected.  Some  of  these  so-called  Franklin 
Milestones  are  still  standing,  one  of  them  being  on  the  Milford 
Road  in  Stratford,  Conn. 

The  first  two  or  three  milestones  in  Manhattan  are  of  white  stone, 
then  a  brown  stone  is  used  the  rest  of  the  way  up  the  river  until  Red 
Hook  is  reached,  when  again  a  white  stone  is  used.  While  mostly 
Arabic  numerals  are  used  in  milestone  inscriptions,  occasionally  we 
find  the  Roman  numbers,  as  on  the  XXIV  milestone  at  Scarsdale, 
N.  Y. 

In  early  days  the  people  of  New  Amsterdam  felt  the  need  of  com- 
munication with  the  outer  world,  especially  with  their  neighbors  and 
kinspeople  at  Fort  Orange.  In  the  winter  when  the  river  was  frozen 
over,  it  was  a  comparatively  easy  matter  to  arrange  this  communica- 
tion, although  the  post  carrier's  task  was  anything  but  a  pleasant  one 
as  he  skirted  the  shores  of  the  wilderness  and  rounded  the  points 
through  the  gorges  against  the  cold  north  wind,  while  skating  his 
lonely  way  to  Albany,  with  Indians  often  lurking  along  the  route. 
Something    more    permanent    was    needed,   and    in    1669,    the    Albany 

Milestones  HISTORICAL   GUIDE         and  Post  Roads 

Post  Road  was  established.  This  was  so  successful  that  three  years 
later  a  road  was  opened  from  New  York  to  Boston,  by  order  of 
Governor  Lovelace.  On  January  i,  1673,  a  mounted  post  v;as  in- 
stituted, among  the  multifarious  duties  being  the  carrying  of  the 
mails;  it  was  not  until  1772  that  a  stage  coach  appeared  carrying 
passengers  at  the   rate  of   four  pence  a  mile. 

At  that  time  the  City  Hall  was  on  Wall  Street,  at  the  corner  of 
Nassau,  where  now  stands  the  Sub-Treasury.  Broadway  up  to  St. 
Paul's  was  opened  mainly  to  reach  the  Post  Road  where  Park  Row 
now  begins,  any  further  development  of  the  street  being  undreamed 
of,  even  to  accommodate  the  outlying  farms  along  the  Hudson.  From 
the  site  of  the  Post  Office  the  Post  Road  ran  through  Park  Row,  up 
the  Bowery  and  Fourth  Avenue  to  Madison  Square  (Excursion  V, 
Section  II)  whence  it  turned  and  twisted  northward  over  toward  the 
East  River,  then  doubled  on  itself.  About  Eighty-sixth  Street  it  en- 
tered the  boundaries  of  the  present  Central  Park,  went  through  Mc- 
Gown's  Pass ;  thence  continued  more  or  less  steadily  to  the  northwest 
until  it  struck  the  lines  of  Broadway  and  Kingsbridge  Road,  when  it 
went  soberly  along  to  the  toll  bridge  over  Spuyten  Duyvil  Creek 
(Excursion  IV,  2).  After  getting  well  over  the  bridge,  the  road 
soon  separated  into  the  Albany  Post  Road,  following  Broadway 
through  Yonkers  and  up  the  river;  and  the  Boston  Post  Road,  going 
up  the  hill  to  the  right  across  to  Williamsbridge,  thence  across 
country  through  Eastchester  to  New  Rochelle,  and  beyond 
to  Boston.  So  long  ago  as  the  English  occupation,  the  people 
of  New  York,  feeling  crowded,  overflowed  into  Harlem,  whence 
the  Dutch  farmers  casting  their  eyes  across  the  Kills,  saw  a 
country  "  fair  to  look  upon."  Means  of  getting  across  were 
soon  considered  and  a  ferry  established  connecting  with  the  road  to 
Harlem  which  branched  off  from  the  Post  Road  at  Central  Park. 
(Excursion  IV,  Section  i).  This  ferry  was  at  about  Third  Avenue 
and  One  Hundred  and  Thirty-first  Street  and  a  bridge  was  built  in 
1795.  As  the  lower  Bronx  section  across  the  Kills  grew,  old  trails 
were  developed,  the  early  Westchester  Path  becoming  a  Post  Road, 
following  the  line  of  Third  Avenue  and  Boston  Road  to  Bronx  Park 
and  then  northeast,  until  it  joined  the  early  road  some  distance  above, 
thus  making  quite  a  cut-off  from  New  York  to  this  junction,  saving  the 
long  detour  around  Kingsbridge.  Lonely  as  the  road  was,  it  was 
not  without  interesting  features.  Hardly  had  the  traveler  left  the 
starting  point  when  he  arrived  at  the  first  Kissing  Bridge,  near  Chat- 
ham Square;  then  came  the  milestones  telling  slowly,  but  steadily,  the 


Milestones  POST  ROADS  and  Post  Roads 

progress  made,  and,  as  taverns  and  road  houses  were  always  con- 
venient, there  was  ever  a  place  for  rest  and  refreshment.  Among 
the  old  road  houses  may  be  mentioned  the  Bull's  Head  Tavern,  near 
the  first  milestone,  where  the  friends  of  the  traveler  who  had  ac- 
companied him  thus  far,  drank  to  his  health  and  safety  on  his  jour- 
ney to  the  wilderness  beyond. 

At  the  second  milestone,  where  Cooper  Union  now  stands,  was  the 
Bowery  Village  Church.  Cato's  Road  House  at  Fifty-second  Street 
was  a  noted  hostelry;  at  Seventy-second  Street  was  another  Kissing 

That  part  of  the  road  near  McGown's  Pass  has  a  special  interest 
from  its  connection  with  the  march  of  the  British  before  the  Battle  of 
Harlem  Heights  and  the  presence  of  Forts  Clinton  and  Fish.  At  the 
bridge  across  Spuyten  Duyvil  Creek,  also  a  Kissing  Bridge,  there 
was  a  celebrated  tavern  well  described  by  Madame  Knight  where 
sleighing  parties  came  out  from  town  for  their  frolics.  Thence  the 
traveler  on  either  of  the  diverging  Post  Roads  had  more  time  for 
the  enjoyment  of  the  scenery,  as  the  evidences  of  civilization  faded 
away  and  the  wilderness  opened  before  him  broken  only  occasionally 
by  village  or  hamlet. 

According  to  the  old  maps  there  was,  starting  from  the  City  Hall  in 
Wall  Street,  a  stone  for  every  mile  in  what  is  now  Manhattan  and 
the  Bronx.  With  the  erection  of  the  present  City  Hall  (1803-12) 
these  milestones  were  replaced  to  bring  them  in  conformity  with  the 
new  starting  point.  This  accounts  for  the  apparent  discrepancies  in 
their  names.  Some  of  the  milestones  have  disappeared,  while  others 
have  had  a  varied  experience.  Some  of  the  stones  have  been  used 
by  bill  posters ;  one  was  rescued  from  a  police  station  and  now 
stands  in  good  surroundings  not  at  all  embarrassed  by  the  falsehood 
showing  on  its  face ;  another  was  removed  from  a  tottering  position 
in  a  neglected  section  of  the  road  and  now  occupies  a  place  safe 
from  destruction ;  one  stone  that  stood  in  the  way  of  public  improve- 
ment was  apparently  improved  off  the  earth ;  another  reposes  in  a 
back  yard  uptown,  while  still  another  has  its  resting  place  in  a  cellar. 

Milestones  in  Manhattan. 

1.  Bowery,    opposite    Rivington    Street. 

2.  Third  Avenue,  between  Sixteenth  and  Seventeenth  Streets. 

4.  Third    Avenue    and    Fifty-seventh    Street. 

5.  Third    Avenue    and    Seventy-seventh    Street. 

7.     Third   Avenue  and   One   Hundred  and   Seventeenth   Street. 


Milestones  HISTORICAL   GUIDE  and  Post  Roads 

7,  Another  stone,  now  stored  at  107  West  One  Hundred  and  Twenty- 
second  Street.  (The  duplicate  7  Milestone  was  probably  on  the 
eastern  Post  Road  after  it  branched  off  the  old  Post  Road  near 
Central  Park.) 

9.  One  Hundred  and  Fifty-second  Street,  between  Amsterdam  and 
St.  Nicholas  Avenues. 

10.  561   West   One  Hundred   and   Sixty-ninth  Street. 

11.  In  Roger  Morris  Park  (see  p.  159). 

12.  At  entrance  to  Isham  Park   (see  p.   175) • 

Milestones   in  the   Bronx 
10.     One  Hundred  and  Sixty-eighth  Street  and  Boston  Road. 

13.  Boston   Road,   near  Pelham   Parkway    (this  stone   has   lately  dis- 

appeared and  may  be  in  the  vicinity). 
15.     Boston  Road,  near  Eastchester. 
15.    Albany  Avenue,  near  Spuyten  Duyvil  Parkway   (see  p.  184). 

Milestones   in   Brooklyn 

At  Sheepshead  Bay,  corner  of  Neck  Road  and  Ryder's  Lane.  In- 
scription reads:  "8  Miles  and  (     )  quarters  to  Brockland  Ferry." 

At  Van  Pelt  Manor,  New  Utrecht ;  has  two  inscriptions :  one  reads : 
"Syi  mile  to  N.  York  Ferry  This  Road  To  Denys's  Ferry  2^ 
Mile."  The  other  reads,  "loVS  Mile  to  N.  York  Ferry  This  Road. 
To  Jamaica  15  Mile." 

At  King's  Highway,  within  fence  line,  left  side,  100  feet  from  Ocean 
Avenue.     Inscription :  "6  Mile  to  Ye  Ferry." 

Milestones  in  Queens.     (All  between  Long  Island  City  and  Flushing.) 
At   Jackson  Avenue,  near   Grinnell    Avenue:   "5   Miles  to  34th   Street 

Ferry,     i  Mile  to  Flushing  Bridge."    Disappeared. 
At    Jackson,    near    Kelly    Avenue :    "3    Miles    to    34th    Street    Ferry, 

3  Miles  to  Flushing  Bridge."     Disappeared. 
At  Jackson,  near  Hulst  Avenue :  "2  Miles  to  34th  Street  Ferry,  4  Miles 

to  Flushing  Bridge." 

Milestone  in  Richmond. 
Formerly  at   corner  of  Signs  Road  and  Richmond   Turnpike,   now  at 
154  Stuyvesant  Place,  in  the  Museum  of  the  Staten  Island  Asso- 
ciation  of   Arts  and   Sciences.     Inscription   reads:   "(     )    miles 
to  N.  Yorke." 



ADDENDA,   1912 
(From    a    theatre    programme   of    "The    African    Company") 

THEATRE    in  Mercer  Street 
In  the  rear  of  the  i   Mile   Stone   Broadway 

The  African  Co.,  etc. 
Harper's   Magadne,   Junc-Nov.,    1889,    p.    133 

As  historians  know  nothing  of  a  theatre  here,  this  was  probably  a 
company  of  negro  amateurs  who  played  in  New  York  in  1820-21.  Old 
residents  remember  a  milestone  in  front  of  old  St.  Thomas'  Church, 
Broadw^ay  and  Houston  Street. 

In  tearing  down  an  old  residence  in  Greenwich  at  102  Christopher 
Street  in  1910  a  block  of  brown  stone  2J/2  feet  long,  10  inches  wide  and 
9  inches  thick  w^as  discovered  (now  at  380  Bleecker  Street)  bearing  the 
inscription,  "9  Miles  from  Camp,"  and  at  the  bottom  some  unde- 
cipherable figures.  It  is  doubtful  whether  "Camp"  refers  to  a  camp  of 
Revolutionary  days  or  to  some  popular  roadhouse  in  upper  Manhattan, 


Milestones  HISTORICAL  GUIDE  and  Post  Roads 


By  Hopper  Striker  AIott 

On  Sept.  6,  1769,  the  Common  Council  ordered  paid  a  bill  of  £8 :  11 : 2 
for  16  stones  supplied  by  George  Lindsay  (Mins.  C.  C.  Vol.  VII.:  178)  ; 
Chap.  XXI,  Laws  14th  George  III,  passed  March  9,  1774,  provided  a 
penalty  of  £3  for  defacing  any  milestone,  hand,  pointer  or  any  other 
monument  erected  for  the  direction  of  travellers  along  the  public  roads, 
or  in  default,  imprisonment  in  the  common  gaol  for  the  space  of  two 
months.  If  the  defacement  be  committed  by  a  slave  and  the  fine  re- 
main unpaid,  imprisonment  with  39  lashes  on  the  bare  back  is  prescribed 
if  said  forfeiture  be  not  paid  within  6  days  after  conviction. 

The  date  of  placing  the  stones  on  the  Albany  Post  Road  was  1769,  a's 
confirmed  by  the  carving  of  this  date  on  the  ninth  milestone,  which 
formerly  stood  at  the  corner  of  Harlem  Lane  (now  St.  Nicholas  Ave- 
nue)   at   149th    Street. 

During  Franklin's  occupation  of  the  Postmaster  Generalship,  and,  in 

accordance  with  the  terms  of  his  appointment,  a  line  of  posts  was  laid 

^ur-«'-'Qut.     As   he   was  in  office  but   a  year    (1775-6)    and  the   route   to   be 

J/)  measured   extended   from   Massachusetts   to  Georgia,  it  is   impossible 

that  he  marked  and  set  out  the  entire  distance. 

,  ^j^  r  •  Christopher  Colles,  an  engineer  of  note,  surveyed  the  Post  Road  in 

r       ^y     1789  from  Federal  Hall,  in  Wall  Street,  and  noted  thereon  the  position 

'^7  -^        of  the  stones.     He  mapped  the  road  from  New  York  to  Kingsbridge, 

(^  )-j1ii   and  on  other  pages  that  to  Albany.    The  survey  locates  the  ist  and  2d 

miles  on  the  Bowery  Lane,  and  then  follows  the  bed  of  the  Post  Road 

over  New  York  Lane  and  Madison  Square.    The  site  of  the  3d  stone 

,'is  placed  about  opposite  24th  Street,  near  the  juncture  of  the  Bloom- 

^.^<^    /ingdale  Road. 

'h^e^<j^^y^'^On  May  10,  1813,  the  Common  Council  authorized  the  erection  of  a 
Iry^l         new    set   of   stones,    with    the   present   City   Hall   as   a    starting  point. 
These  guides   marked   the   passing  mfles  on  the  Boston   Road,   No.    i 
being  at^Rivington  Street  and  the  Bowery. 

i^^/^r.^^.,.r/H'        MILESTONES    IN    BLOOMINGDALE 

That  there  was  a  series  running  up  the  Bloomingdale  Road  is 
proved  by  the  following  evidence.  The  3d  stone,  as  Colles  has  shown, 
was  near  24th  Street,  at  the  junction  of  the  Post  Road. 

This  advertisement  from  the  Columbian  of  June  6,  1815,  has  been 
found ; 


Milestones  HISTORICAL    GUIDE  in  Bloomingdale 

"A  stray  steer  was  found  on  the  premises  of  the  subscriber  on  the 
5th  of  August  last.  The  owner  may  have  the  said  steer  by  proving 
property  and  paying  all  reasonable  charges. 

"Isaac  Varian  Jun. 
"Bloomingdale — 3  mile  stone." 

This  also  fixes  the  Bloomingdale  name  as  extending  as  far  south 
as  Twenty-third   Street. 

The  fourth  stone  must  have  been  at  about  Forty-Fourth  Street  and 
we  have  this  advertisement  from  the  Mercantile  Advertiser  of  Decem- 
ber ID,  1814,  confirming  the  location  there : 

"To  let  for  one  or  more  years,  the  farm  at  Bloomingdale,  near  the 
four  mile  stone,  known  by  the  name  of  Eden's  Farm,  consisting  of 
about  22  acres  of  land,  on  which  are  two  dwelling  houses  and  2  farms 
and  to  which  may  be  added  2  pieces  of  pasture  land  of  about  10  acres 
each.     Apply  to 

"John   Jacob   Astor,  cor.   Pine   and    Pearl   Streets." 

The  evidence  for  saying  that  there  was  a  second  series  marking 
tended  as  far  south  as  Forty-first  Street.  It  was  acquired  by  Astor 
under  foreclosure  in  1803  for  $25,000.  So  much  for  the  distances  from 
Wall  Street. 

The  evidences  for  saying  that  there  was  a  second  series  marking 
the  distance  from  the  City  Hall  is  as  follows :  We  have  personally 
seen  a  stone  which  stood  on  the  Road  at  Fifty-fourth  Street  during 
our  boyhood,  which  was  marked  "Four  miles  from  N.  Y." 

In  John  Austin  Stevens'  notes  to  the  History  of  the  Chamber  of 
Commerce,  p.  314,  he  says :  "The  five  mile  stone  stands  near  the 
corner  of  Seventy-fourth  Street  and  the  Bloomingdale  Road,  opposite 
grounds  lately  owned  by  Pelatiah  Perit  (20th  President  of  the  Cham- 
ber) and  the  6  mile  stone  near  Ninety-sixth  Street,  in  front  of  the 
property  of  Dr.  Williams." 

The  Evening  Post  announced  that  John  Moir  opened  the  Bloom- 
ingdale Academy  in  181 5,  located  5  miles  from  the  city,  on  the  Bloom- 
ingdale Road.     This  was  at  Seventy-fourth  Street. 

Samuel  Beman,  A.  M.,  opened  a  boarding  school  for  small  boys  in 
1838  at  the  six  mile  stone,  situated  "on  Dr.  Valentine  Mott's  beauti- 
ful mansion  grounds."    The  house  stood  at  Ninety-fourth  Street. 

The  7  mile  stone  was  at  One  Hundred  and  Sixteenth  Street  and 
the  8  at  One  Hundred  and  Thirty-sixth  Street,  a  half  mile  south  of 
the  junction  of  the  Bloomingdale  and  Kingsbridge  Roads  at  One  Hun- 
dred and  Forty-seventh  Street. 


i-xDr(Hr\T    ur    <^ur<OKtoc> 

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Eleventh  Milestone  Unveiling,  May  30,  1912. 



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